Can I hate “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”?

I’ve been doing theme days for my daughter while we’re working on some schooling. I choose a book and then activities that go along with it. This past Friday we read “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” by Rosemary Wells. It’s my daughter’s favorite book. We then did several spider related activities and finished by watching a animated version of the song on Youtube.

That has since spiraled out of control in to a 50 video playlist of different videos and versions of The Itsy Bitsy Spider. She begs for me to play it again and again. She has had it going on the background while she’s playing for days now and to be honest it’s starting to drive me up the wall. I tried to convince her to change to something else, but she’s not having it.

If I never hear the Itsy Bitsy Spider again that will be fine with me, but she wakes up 23 minutes from when I’m writing this. 22 minutes. 21 minutes. Wish me luck.

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1000 Books Before Kindergarten

1000 Books Before Kindergarten

One of our local libraries started a new program two weeks ago called “1000 Books Before Kindergarten.” They handed out trees with apples to color in. Three double sided sheets have the first 300 apples for the project. We took them home and set them in a place I would remember to color the apples in.

In truth I thought it was a silly program for someone like my daughter who requests stories to be read to her all the time. We will sometimes read the same story a dozen times in a row. I laughed and thought how ridiculous the program was. We would be done with the first tree in a week I thought to myself.

Here we are two weeks later and we have 54 apples filled in. I’m not sure if that’s because I just can’t remember to color in the apple after a story, if I’m underestimating how many books we’ve read when I get back to my desk after a long reading session, or if we really have only read 54 books in the past two weeks. I’m not saying that’s bad by any means, just that it’s less than I expected.

Reading 1000 books to your child can sound like a lot if you don’t read often, or even if you do, but it is a challenge that is completely worth tackling. If your child is one day old, read to your child. If your child is a screaming three year old that only wants to read books about dump trucks or sword fights, read to your child. Even if your child starts kindergarten in a week and there is no chance you will finish the challenge in time, read to your child. If your child is twelve and willing to listen to you read out loud to them, read to your child. Reading to your child is never amiss.

Hearing us, as parents or caregivers, read out loud to them and seeing us reading for our own pleasure are great ways to show children that reading is fun and what child doesn’t want to do something fun.

Are you going to take on the challenge with your toddler?

Overwhelmed by Curriculum

I can’t even remember how it started now, but it was only about eight weeks ago.  It was probably a workbook from Dollar Tree that my daughter found and wanted to take home. It probably had stickers. And I’m sure I said ‘Yes’. Sounds simple enough.

Eight weeks later, my house is filling up with curriculum, my brain is on overload from all of the options and research, my anxiety is rising trying to choose the best books and manipulatives, and our budget is starting to complain about all of the money going towards more workbooks instead of refilling our freezer. I am overwhelmed. I have too many options and I’m trying to buy everything I can make our budget afford.

Yesterday I bought a workbook set from dollar tree that had four books, one each on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Division! For my 2 year old that can’t add yet? What am I doing?

Just because it seems like a worthwhile workbook or set of flash cards or anything else does not mean we need it. It does not mean it will work for us now or maybe not ever.

There are so many choices and so many price points. Do I spend $300 for a preschool curriculum? Or piecemeal free worksheets and books we read together to get through a year of learning. Should we just stick to doing what my daughter thinks is fun and not worry too much about focused learning or projects? She is two after all.

I want the best. The best curriculum, the best everything for my daughter. If I chose the wrong series she may not flourish, it could be the difference between her curing cancer and working a minimum wage job for the rest of her life. No pressure, right?

So what do I do? For starters, I keep reminding myself that she is two. As long as she is having fun and doing more than watching Paw Patrol and eating junk food all day, then she is doing fine. She’s learning all the time. She’s growing all the time.

I tell myself to relax. If she can’t read before she turns three, that won’t be the end of the world. If we don’t finish every workbook, that won’t be the end of the world. If we don’t have ‘school’ every day, that won’t be the end of the world either.

I tell myself to relax and have fun with my child. Tickle fights, snuggles on the couch, silly dances, and fun music are all even more important than worksheets and  reading lessons.

So, I tell myself “enjoy your child today. Love on her. Give her squishes and as many kisses as she can stand.” Dishes can wait, learning to read can wait. She won’t want to snuggle on my lap for much longer. She’s already too independent as it is. Just love on her while you can. The workbooks will be there when she’s ready, and so will I.

Homeschool Mom Tag

I have watched several homeschool Moms answering the questions in this tag in videos on Youtube. I thought it would be interesting to answer the questions, but does teaching my two year old count as homeschooling? I believe the answer is yes.

According to Merriam-Webster.com the definition of homeschool is “to teach (one’s children) at home”.

We do that. So here are the ten questions:

1. Were you homeschooled?
2. Did you know always know you’d homeschool your children?
3. What are your 3 favorite books in your homeschool library?
4. Are you the only “teacher”? Does your spouse help, outsource help, tutors, etc.
5. Where is your favorite place to buy homeschool curriculum?
6. Do you have a set budget for your homeschool?
7. What are 2 must have homeschool supplies?
8. What’s your favorite/least favorite subject to teach?
9. Are you involved in coops or homeschool groups? What has your experience been in these groups?
10. What is your approach? ( Charlotte mason, eclectic, classical, etc)

My answers:

Were you homeschooled? Yes. I went to a public school through the sixth grade and was homeschooled for grades 7-10 at which point I tested for a GED.

Did you know always know you’d homeschool your children? No. My husband was against homeschooling. He was always adamant that if we had children they would go to school.I wasn’t sure I wanted to homeschool either. We’re still not entirely sure what we will do when she reaches the age where the state requires her to have a more formal education, but at this point we’re leaning towards homeschooling her as long as she wants to.

What are your 3 favorite books in your homeschool library? This is a really hard one. We are a home of book lovers so we have an overabundance. I’ll go with current favorites though they are subject to change at any moment and with no warning, my daughter is two after all. Her current favorite book to have read to her is ‘The Itsy Bitsy Spider” by Rosemary Wells. Her current favorite book to read to herself is “My first 1 2 3 : a first counting book” by Sam Chaffey. It’s a counting book that goes up to the number 20 instead of just to ten and loves it! And book three would be the “Touch and Feel Puppy” book by DK Publishing, Inc. My toddler is dog obsessed and she loves that she can pet the dog pictures and feel their noses too.

Are you the only “teacher”? Does your spouse help, outsource help, tutors, etc. I think at age two everyone is teaching her all the time. As far as more formal work, I set up all school related activities and I’m the only one that does workbooks with her, at last so far. We do attend a music class for toddlers and their caregivers though.

Where is your favorite place to buy homeschool curriculum? We are still pretty new to curriculum of any sort, but anything we have used so far has come from Dollar Tree, Sam’s Club, or Amazon.

Do you have a set budget for your homeschool? We are a one and a half income family so we have a tight budget for everything. We do not have a budget line for homeschool supplies as yet though the funds just come out of what we would be spending on toys or other miscellaneous things.

What are 2 must have homeschool supplies? My daughter’s Kindle (with wifi) and stickers. We use both in so many ways.

What’s your favorite/least favorite subject to teach? We don’t follow too strict of a schedule or curriculum. I try to offer her a variety of options, but we are pretty much only focused on math based work, handwriting/prewriting, and reading, with some logic and lifeskills thrown in.  My favorite would have to be math because she has the most fun with it. My least favorite it writing and pen control because she doesn’t enjoy it. I keep coming up with new ways to get her to practice or at least try, but she really doesn’t enjoy it so I don’t push too much. She will write when she’s ready.

Are you involved in coops or homeschool groups? What has your experience been in these groups? We are not in a group or coop and I didn’t know they were a thing until recently so I have no experience thus far.

What is your approach? ( Charlotte mason, eclectic, classical, etc) Eclectic and casual. We’re willing to try just about anything once.

Feel free to leave any answers to the questions below. I would love to hear from you too!

When Totschool Activities Don’t Go as Planned

I spend some time each day browsing Instagram and Pinterest, watching Youtube, or searching Google for new ideas on home school activities to do with my two year old. I have folders of activities saved to my computer and boards dedicated to fun things to do on Pinterest.

I often think “this looks fun” or “she will love this!” I prep what I can so I always have activities on hand and ready to go. Some things take just a few minutes to prep and others take days, shopping trips, or searching for the perfect tool.

I always love it when my daughter gets very excited about a new project, game, or activity I found and took the time to put together.

This activity fell somewhere in between as far as time to set up. I had the small ice cube tray that wasn’t being used any longer. I bought the various colored pom pom balls at dollar tree on our next weekly shopping trip and finally found the child size tweezers the week after. I was excited to help my daughter sort the pom poms by color.

She got excited as I took out the supplies and set them up on the sofa. She got really excited when she saw the tweezers. I showed her how to squeeze them. She smiled. And then she tried to use the tweezers to lift the pom pom. She failed to make them work. She was holding them too close to the back end. I tried to readjust her hand. She resisted. She tried to pick up the pom pom again. She couldn’t get the tweezers to squeeze. The tweezers were launched on the floor. She grabbed handfuls of pom poms and dropped them on the floor as well. Then she got up and went to play with something else.

I stared after her for a few moments. I thought of the shopping trips. I thought of how much she was supposed to love this activity. I thought of how much fun she has sorting things. I thought of how this was supposed to have gone. I thought about trying to force her back to the sofa and trying again to make her little fingers work the tweezers. I shook my head. I thought about crying. Instead I picked up the pom poms and tweezers from the floor. I took them and the ice cube tray back to the home school shelf and put them away. Then I sat on the floor with my daughter and helped her build a block tower bigger than she is.

While we stacked we talked about the letters, numbers, colors, animals, and objects on the sides of the blocks. She had fun, I had fun, and we learned things. That’s what school is supposed to be. Fun and educational.

At two, she doesn’t care how much time or effort I put in to activities. She doesn’t care if it cost $1 to create or $100. She just knows if she’s having fun or not. I put the tweezers up for another day. Perhaps when she has a bit more patience to learn a new skill. For now I plan activities and try to be open to my plans being thrown out the window by the curly haired red head I love more than anything.

She’s learning and growing and that’s all I can ask of her.

Educational Supplies from Dollar Tree

Educational Supplies from Dollar Tree

One of my favorite places to get educational tools for use with my toddler is the Dollar Tree. They have so many amazing resources. They have craft and coloring supplies, storage and organizational tools, all kinds of stationery and stickers, notebooks for her to practice drawing or writing, books to read, and workbooks too!

I’ve seen workbooks for every age from pre k to sixth grade. They have alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, prewriting, animals, vehicles, pre-reading skills, math at various grade levels and so much more!

The workbooks come in various themes including Disney characters. The workbooks are often very colorful and filled with fun and educational activities. My daughter often points to the row of workbooks on our bookshelf and asks for a pen. She loves to fill the pages with help from me.

Her favorite workbooks are the ones where you answer most of the questions with stickers!

The workbooks do range in quality and size. I have seen workbooks at dollar tree with as few as 12 pages or as many as 62. Either way, for a dollar, I figure we can’t go wrong. This is not the only place I purchase workbooks for my daughter, but it is the most frequent because she fills them up and at that price I don’t mind too much if she isn’t filling them in exactly correctly.

We also love all of the various teacher tools they sell at Dollar Tree in the Teaching Tree section. We have many things from there including flashcards, foam counting blocks, test tubes, plastic tweezers for children, and more. That is the spot I get most excited to see whenever we shop there.

There are so many great resources at the Dollar Tree for not a lot of money. You should check yours out for some fun, and possibly educational, things to do with your child.

Teaching my Toddler

My daughter is two. She’s very bright. She loves to ‘read’ books and she loves to do puzzles. I read to her most days. I help her with puzzles and crafts and coloring sheets. I take her to a music class for toddlers. I try to teach her all of the things I feel like she is ready to know. But is that enough?

She surprises me often with something new she just knows how to do. Where did she learn how to use a broom or to put dirty dishes in the sink? When did she learn that a broken crayon goes in the trash can? How did she learn all of her colors and letters and numbers? I didn’t spend any time drilling them in to her. We didn’t use flashcards or mandatory practice or school time. She just learned them.

We blame television and her kindle for most of the things she just knows. Word World gave her a basic understanding of letters and animals. Apps on her kindle taught her how to put a puzzle together.

I’m a work at home mom that puts in too many hours for not enough pay, but I do what we need for me to do to get by. Is that enough of an excuse for my child to be educated by electronics?

I don’t think it is. Her media exposure is more than I ever expected it to be, but she is flourishing. As soon as she starting telling me the letters instead of asking me to say them to her I got her flashcards and alphabet puzzles and coloring sheets. When she started telling me animal names I did the same and started to help her identify animal sounds.

I follow her lead on what she is ready to learn. I don’t think that’s quite good enough. Her brain is a little sponge that is more than ready to absorb even more information.

I’ve spent the last few weeks making sure to give her my full attention a few times a day when, both when she has asked for it and when I think she is in a calm enough mood to really benefit from it. I’ve amassed workbooks, manipulatives, and other learning based items from around the house and from the store.

She’s loving it! She doesn’t have as long of an attention span as I would like sometimes, but that teaching Momma more patience and my toddler focus. She loves the workbooks and she loves the new toys that we play with together. She is blossoming even more and we both have special time together that we cherish.

It’s not a strict schedule. We don’t have themed weeks. I’m just trying to take our playtime and give it a purpose. When she asks for her pen to work in a workbook I drop everything as quickly as I possibly can and we set up in a comfy place to get as much done as she wants to. As long as she’s still having fun.

Playing with a purpose is our new home motto. I want her to have fun. I want her to learn. I want her to be a kid. I want her to be happy.